"INDEPENDENCE ROCK," by Debra Terry Hulet, Cedar Fort, $13.99, 200 pages (f)

Soon to be 16 years old, Katie McBride has a life that is anything but easy. An alcoholic mom makes every day miserable. Frequently drunk beyond the capacity for reason, Katie’s mom beats her daughter, and Katie’s dad hasn't been heard from since he landed in jail and called to ask for help.

Hunger plagues Katie as the dusty and filthy home cries for attention, and the cabinets are never filled. Alcohol, not Katie's suffering, is her mother’s first priority. 

Challenges overwhelm Katie, who is constantly in trouble at school. The situation becomes more desperate with every day.

At the end of her rope, Katie hits back when her mom is approaching to strike her yet again, and her mother has her arrested.

Appearing before a judge who knows nothing of Katie’s secret home life and the beatings she endures, he offers her a choice: jail or a two-week handcart trip.

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Opting for the handcart trip, Katie discovers more than she bargained for when she connects with one of her ancestors through a pioneer diary.

"Independence Rock" is an honest look at some painful situations and shows that while life is not always fair, there is always hope.

Katie's trials, the handcart trek and the discovery of her ancestor all play a factor in her coming-of-age experiences.

Those interested in a good read will not be disappointed. Anyone with a teen, who is a teen, who is interested in LDS Church history, or deals with relatives or friends who are alcoholics with benefit from this book.

Becky Robinette Wright is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Virginia.

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